San Diegan Kathy Stadler is the first to admit she doesn’t have much of a green thumb. Luckily, many of her neighbors do and they’ve found a unique way to share the fruits of their labor.
Stadler, a resident of San Diego’s Bay Ho Palisades community in the Clairemont area, uses an app called Nextdoor to trade herbs from her garden in exchange for fruit and vegetables from her neighbor’s gardens.
“For those of us who don’t quite have a green thumb, this is great,” Stadler told NBC 7. “Neighbors used to borrow a cup of sugar in the old days, and this is a modern-day version of that and a great way to connect with neighbors.”
Nextdoor is a free social network for specific neighborhoods. Using the app, residents can keep one another abreast of what’s happening in their area – from garage sales and block parties, to giving one another local recommendations on services like babysitters, plumbers and dentists.
Users can also utilize the app to report suspicious activity or crimes in their neighborhoods or sell and give away items such as old couch or bike.
In Stadler’s case, the app has helped her score some of the freshest, homegrown fruits and produce while helping her feel more in-tune with her community.
“Someone will write a post asking for fresh fruit and offering to pick the fruit from someone’s garden. Another neighbor will respond with what kind of fruit they have available and so on,” Stadler explained.
“I was fortunate enough to get some of the most beautiful lemons from a neighbor. I’ve also gotten grapefruits,” she added.
In exchange, Stadler trades fresh herbs she has grown in her own garden, including rosemary and sage.
“It’s been a great way to get to know my neighbors,” she said.
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Stadler said her neighbors enjoy the trade-off too, because they’re able to use more of their fruits and veggies before they turn. She said it feels good to know the hard work in their gardens won’t go to waste.
Stadler is among approximately 150 Bay Ho Palisades residents using Nextdoor in that neighborhood. She said there are approximately 5,000 people using it across Clairemont.
She has been using the app for two years and said it has helped her meet more neighbors than ever, even after living in the Bay Ho Palisades area for nine years.
Besides trading fruit, she said her neighbors use the tech tool to organize walking and workout groups, post alerts on lost or found pets, recommend restaurants, promote their small businesses and even discuss local issues like the proposed Chargers stadium in Mission Valley.
“Clairemont is big and it’s hard to get a sense of community sometimes. This helps,” she said.
NBC 7’s Consumer Bob – who also happens to be an avid gardener – said a tool like this helps residents have more of a presence in their neighborhoods.
Consumer Bob said his wife has tried trading produce with their neighbors. She’s even gone as far as to leave a note on a neighbor’s door asking to trade avocados from her garden for lemons from the neighbor’s tree.
Sometimes the old-fashioned legwork pays off, other times it doesn’t.
He said Nextdoor could help increase his family's fruit trade success rate, meaning a larger bounty of fresh food to snack on at home.
“I like the sound of that,” Consumer Bob added.
Nextdoor is currently being used in more than 820 neighborhoods across the greater San Diego area and more than 56,000 neighborhoods across all 50 states.
According to Nextdoor, which cites a 2010 report from Neighbors Online, 28 percent of Americans don’t know any of their neighbors by name. However, Nexdoor says a 2012 Harris Interactive Survey shows that 67 percent of homeowners feel safer in their home and neighborhood because they actually know their neighbors.
NBC 7's parent company Comcast is an investor in Nextdoor.